Cultural intelligence

 
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China - keep it monochrome

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a sovereign state in East Asia. The capital and seat of government is Beijing but the largest city and global financial centre is Shanghai. The currency is the yuan and the main language is Mandarin Chinese. The Communist Party of China exercises jurisdiction over the country, along with Hong Kong and Macau, which are primarily self-governing. It also claims sovereignty over Taiwan.

With a population of over 1.35 billion, China has become one of the world's fastest-growing major economies and is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. The larger industries include iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, footwear, toys, food processing, automobiles, and consumer electronics.

Agriculture is a vital industry in China, employing over 300 million farmers and produces rice, wheat, potatoes, tomato, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed and soybeans. Although accounting for only 10 percent of arable land worldwide, it produces food for 20 percent of the world's population.


China suffers from severe environmental pollution, but in 2013 it began a five-year plan to reduce air pollution, particularly in the north of the country. It is also investing in renewable energy. In 2009, over 17% of China's energy was derived from renewable sources – most notably hydroelectric power plants.


Approximately 298 million Chinese in rural areas do not have access to safe drinking water, and 40% of China's rivers have been polluted by industrial and agricultural waste. There are also water shortages, particularly in the north-east of the country. The Chinese government is in the middle of water infrastructure and desalination projects over a ten-year period, and aims to complete construction of a flood prevention and anti-drought system by 2020.


Tourism is a major revenue-earner – in 2014, China's international visitors reached 26.36 million. It is advisable to inform your hotel in advance of your dietary requirements. The Chinese culture allows the consumption of some animals and animal parts which could be considered unpalatable in other parts of the world.


According a recent study by the accounting firm, Grant Thornton, women hold 35% of the senior management positions in China and 19% of those are serving as CEOs.  Also a significant number of partners with private equity firms in China are women. Half of the world’s billionaires are from China and 10% of those are women.

Business culture is formal and non-verbal communication is prevalent. The Chinese strive for harmony and are group-dependent; they rely on facial expression, tone of voice and posture to tell them what someone feels. Frowning while someone is speaking is interpreted as a sign of disagreement, therefore most Chinese maintain an impassive expression.

Visual aids are useful in large meetings and should only be done with black type on a white background. Colours have special meanings and a particular choice of colour could work against you.

 

Share your Chinese business experiences

Sources: Wikipedia, bbc.com, Richard King of BusinessLife.com, everyculture.com

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